Down's Syndrome Scotland - Learning Resources

Approximately 90% of people with Down's Syndrome have common eye problems which may be present from an early age.

These include:

  • Refractive errors (long and near sightedness) - these are more common in Down’s Syndrome and can be more severe.
  • Presbyopia - this is the lack of accommodation for near objects that is associated with age. This can occur at a younger age than in the general population.
  • Cataracts (cloudiness/opacity of the lens) - possibly one or both eyes. There is a gradual loss of vision as the eye lens becomes cloudier.
  • Astigmatism (front surface of cornea is not spherical) can cause blurred vision
  • Keratoconus (cornea becomes thin and conical), possibly affecting one or both eyes. This can cause eye strain, headaches and affect daily activities.
  • Strabismus (squint/lazy eye) the eye alignment, may turn the eye inwards or outwards. This can cause double vision however the brain will eventually stop taking images from the squint eye, which will then in turn go blind.

Treatment options may include

  • Wear glasses specific to individual prescription
  • Contact lenses specific to individual prescription
  • Eye Lubricants
  • Operation to remove cataract lens
  • Artificial lens implants
  • Operation to remove the cornea
  • Corneal transplant


  • Newborn babies are examined for congenital cataract and the paediatrician will monitor visual activity.
  • Within the second year of life an opthalmological assessment should be completed. If there is no evidence of any defects a further opthalmological assessment is not needed until four years old.
  • Biennial eye test (every 2years) is recommended thereafter to identify any changes in vision.

    Key Point

    Visual impairment may not be offered as a complaint by the person with Down’s Syndrome or their carer. If someone presents with changes in their functioning or mobility consider visual impairment. Someone with worsening eyesight may struggle to complete tasks they were previously able to do.


    Quick Quiz

    How often should adults have their eyes checked?

    6 monthly
    2 Yearly